Today we’re lucky to be close to a cell tower that provides us with the network we need to get connected to the internet and get our work done.
However, there are times when there’s no internet connection at all or due to faulty equipment or some natural calamity the network infrastructure has gotten destroyed.
In such a situation, normally it would take days for the network to come back online. However, researchers at IIT-Kharagpur have developed a system involving unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs (basic drones) with 5G infrastructure built-in, to help as airborne mobile telecommunication towers.
The novel system has been designed by a team of researchers including Kirtan Gopal Panda, Shrayan Das, Bharat Dwivedi, Aunullah Qaiser and led by professor Debarati Sen, from the G.S. Sanyal School of Telecommunication (a part of IIT-Kharagpur) set up by HCL co-founder Arjun Malhotra.
Professor Sen explained the tech behind this, “Through intelligent programming, we can deploy our 5G-connected drone fleet in a particular location as soon as the first emergency signal is flagged and complete the evacuation of the endangered data in the telecommunication backbone network within the first 3 minutes of the occurrence of a disaster. The drones will relay the data to the rescue server which is located thousands of miles away while restoring the network connection through the nearest mobile tower.”
Even in cases when there are network disruptions, the drones are smart enough to avoid it by switching their location and bypassing the jam. Moreover, the drone’s localization and rescue-based services can help in looking for survivors at the affected location while also providing additional aid and reducing the time for first responders.
Sen added, “We have already studied the performance of the UAV network with the APP ‘NerQuake’ in situations of emergency response in disaster management and maintenance of the quality of service by deploying a fleet of four unmanned aerial vehicles. We have used network coverage data of various mobile service providers in the North-Eastern states in verifying the functionality of the APP.”
Researchers have submitted a phase-I report of the UAV-5G infrastructure system with MEITY, Government of India and they plan on commercializing the system in the near future.